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Dr Tom set for the job

A visit to a physiotherapist when Tom Sanders was injured at 13 lit the fire in one of Bond University’s newest and most highly qualified graduands.

Tom Sanders celebrates a premiership with teammate.
Tom and teammate celebrate their AFL premiership win. 

Tom, now 25 and a Doctor of Physiotherapy, recalled how the treatment of stress fractures in his lower back from playing cricket sparked his interest in physiotherapy. 

“It was my first interaction with a physiotherapist and it taught me so much about my own body at the time.

“That injury taught me to look at my own biomechanics and it was from there that I really progressed into (treating players in) higher level rugby and AFL.”

During his treatment as a rapidly-growing teenager into his now 193cm frame, his physiotherapist shared his knowledge on the importance of studying science as a dovetail to physiotherapy – particularly the knowledge of anatomy.

This early knowledge of sport, injuries and healing was to become a passion for the former Sydneysider who now calls Mermaid Beach his home.

His journey led to him graduating at Bond University recently, and along the way picking up a Bachelor of Applied Science Sports and Excellence (University of Sydney).

In 2023 his achievements were celebrated for making the Vice Chancellor’s list for Academic Excellence.

Along the way he enjoyed invaluable clinical placements, putting his newfound knowledge as a student physiotherapist with the Suns AFLW, the Western Force Super Rugby Club as well as Stanford University Sports Medicine in the US.

This high achiever has had parents who led by their own examples – dad David sailed for Australia and mum Cathryn Ferguson established the Environmental Protection Agency in NSW and the UK, working with the then-Prince Charles in the process.

And guess what younger brother Ben is studying in Sydney? Physiotherapy.

“Our family always had a focus on books in the house and newspapers and we were encouraged to pursue knowledge as part of life.”

He said his time in Stanford University, California, was “unforgettable”.

“That was an amazing time. We were working with athletes across 36 sports who were all at the top of their game – the best in the US collegiate competitions.

“We had to learn to be hands-on with different sports, different injuries, different bodies.

“The physio side was amazing, as was the networking with staff there.

“It was truly incredible.”

Tom praised his educators at Bond University not only for their knowledge and methods of teaching, but also for educating students on how to learn better.

“When we compare our studies and opportunities through Bond, and the networking, it’s far superior to other universities and countries.”

For the next few weeks Tom will enjoy more of his less stressful sport, golf, as he eyes the life of a full-time physio working with Matt Brown at PhysioFit in Southport.

Is he a little scared of being let loose on the public?

Not in the least, he said.

“I feel so prepared. Coming to Bond was the best decision.”

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